According to a 2016 study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, a snack is a food you eat between meals that is high in calories, sodium, fat, and added sugars yet deficient in health-promoting nutrients. So, per this definition, and seeing that chips started out as thinly sliced and deep-fried potatoes, classic potato chips can be classified as a snack.
However, due to the market’s transition towards healthier foods, some chips have also evolved into healthier snack options in an effort to keep up with market trends (per Mordor Intelligence). According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a healthy snack is made with whole grains to provide extra fiber. It is also low in sodium, fat, and added sugars, which is why you can now find multiple nutritious alternatives to the classic potato chip. For instance there’s oven baked instead of fried, chips made without artificial ingredients, or legume-based options rather than potato-based. Still, with so many different available options out there (and many sneaky marketing claims), choosing the best chip for snack time might get a bit overwhelming. Here’s a round-up of some of the best chips to eat and those you should avoid.
1. Eat: Enjoy Life Sea Salt Lentil Chips
Enjoy Life Sea Salt Lentil Chips are the perfect example of a health-conscious chip that evolved from being potato-based to a legume-based snack. Legumes or pulses such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans are incredibly nutritious. According to a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, they are a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, prebiotics, and plant-beneficial compounds, and, for that reason, they are believed to help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
These chips are a gluten-free snack that’s also free from all the major food allergens, such as milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy (per the Food and Drug Administration. Plus, they’re also free of other common allergenic ingredients like casein, mustard, lupin, sesame, and added sulfites, as well as being certified vegan, halal, and Non-GMO verified. Try these airy and crispy lentil chips on their own or with a creamy spread at your next gathering with family or friends.
2. Avoid: Herr’s Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips
Herr’s Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips are just what you’d expect to get from a standard bag of chips. They are made with potatoes, a blend of vegetable oils, seasoning, and salt, lots of salt. In fact, they pack a whopping 490 mg of sodium per serving, which accounts for 21% of the amount of sodium you should consume per day (according to the Food and Drug Administration. Yet, since their serving size is only 13 chips, you will most likely consume well over that amount.
According to the American Heart Association, eating too much sodium from highly-processed foods can have a negative impact on your heart health by raising your blood pressure. It can also potentially lead to a stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and bloating or weight gain from water retention. In addition, you may have noticed there is no vinegar in the ingredients list. Thus, Herr’s Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips are artificially flavored. On the bright side, they’re gluten-free and are kosher dairy. Nevertheless, there are plenty of chips out there that also meet those dietary needs while being on the healthier side.
3. Eat: Quest Nutrition Nacho Cheese Tortilla Style Protein Chips
According to research, high-protein diets can help manage your weight by increasing the levels of appetite-reducing hormones while reducing the levels of hunger-promoting hormones, helping lead to a lower food intake due to prolonged feelings of fullness. So, if you’re looking for a way to boost your protein intake but want to enjoy some savory and crunchy chips at the same time, then look no more because Quest Nutrition Nacho Cheese Tortilla Style Protein Chips are just what dreams are made of.
These chips are made with a protein blend containing milk and whey protein isolate and pack 18 grams of protein per bag while providing just 5 grams of carbs and 6 grams of total fats. They are also certified gluten-free and are kosher dairy. However, while they may tick all your macro needs, these chips are also high in sodium. These cheesy chips are a delicious snack you can take with you on a busy day or serve topped with minced meat, pico de gallo, and guacamole for a healthy and low-carb version of nachos.
4. Avoid: Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Puffs
While Cheetos Puffs are not exactly a chip, they are on this list because they belong in the same snack category. However, as you can imagine, these are among the least nutritious ones. Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Puffs contain a long list of ultra-processed and artificial ingredients that most of us can hardly pronounce. In addition, due to their highly-processed nature, they also pack high amounts of sodium and total fat per serving while providing virtually no fiber.
Among their numerous artificial ingredients, Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Puffs contain four different food dyes, including Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, and Yellow 5. While these color additives are approved for general use in the United States, there are still some concerns about their potentially negative impact on behavioral health, such as hyperactivity. This is especially worrisome in children who consume more artificial dyes per body weight compared to adults, as explained by a 2022 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
5. Eat: Beanitos Pinto Bean Chips, Sea Salt
Beanitos Pinto Bean Sea Salt Chips are a wholesome alternative to regular chips. These earthy and savory chips are made with only five ingredients, including whole beans, sunflower oil, rice flour, tapioca starch, and sea salt. They’re also gluten-free, vegan, kosher, Non-GMO verified, and free of artificial ingredients like preservatives or food dyes. Plus, they’re made with sustainably sourced beans from American farmers in Colorado, Nebraska, and North Dakota.
Since whole beans are a high-fiber food, these chips also pack 4 grams of the nutrient per serving. According to a 2020 review published in Nutrients, dietary fiber is linked to improved health outcomes, as it helps boost gut health, weight management, blood sugar, cholesterol control, and inflammation, and may even help prevent some kinds of cancer. Beanitos Bean Chips are also available in other bean flavors like black or white beans, white beans and lime, sweet chili, and sour cream. While they’re perfect to snack on by themselves, you can also crush them over a salad or soup for a crunchy nutritious topping.
6. Avoid: Pringles Pizza Crisps
Pringles Pizza Crisps combine two of America’s favorite foods: pizza and chips. Still, like most fast food-flavored snacks (and despite being a crowd-pleaser), these chips are not a nutritious alternative, and the lack of wholesome ingredients grants them a spot among the chips you should avoid. These crisps contain over 20 ingredients on their list, with the majority being highly processed. They are also rich in refined carbs, which is evidenced by their null fiber content.
In addition, a single serving of Pringles Pizza Crisps provides 2.5 grams of saturated fats, which equals over 12% of the Daily Value (DV) for this nutrient. The DV refers to the recommended amount of a nutrient you should not exceed per day (via the Food and Drug Administration). Yet, with 6 servings per container, you could easily consume up to 75% of the DV for saturated fats, which are linked to heart problems because they can raise your blood cholesterol levels, as explained by the American Heart Association. Therefore, you’re probably better off swapping these chips for some of the other healthier alternatives on this list.
7. Eat: Rhythm Organic Naked Beet Chips
Rhythm Organic Naked Beet Chips are here to show you that veggies can also make great chips. These wholesome and vibrant chips are made with a single ingredient: organic beets. Therefore, they’re loaded with all the healthy plant-beneficial compounds these earthy vegetables have to offer. According to Healthline, beets are an antioxidant-rich veggie that can help lower blood pressure, improve exercise endurance, boost gut and brain health, and fight cancer and inflammation. Plus, they’re a rich source of fiber, which is evidenced by the chips’ high fiber content.
Since these chips are vegetable-based and air-dried rather than fried, this snack is also a delicious fat-free alternative to your regular potato chip. Additionally, they’re certified organic, free of gluten, Non-GMO verified, vegan, and kosher. Try pairing Rhythm Organic Naked Beet Chips with your favorite hummus or even as a crispy side dish for your next meal.
8. Avoid: Ruffles Queso Cheese Flavored Potato Chips
Ruffles Queso Cheese Flavored Potato Chips are just like the brand’s classic ridged chips but with a smoky, spicy, and cheesy twist. However, like other Ruffles’ chips, they’re also a high-fat and sodium snack that provides plenty of simple carbs and practically no fiber, making them something you should avoid.
As explained by Medical News Today, simple carbs are ones that spike your blood sugar levels due to their lack of fiber. Their intake leads to what is commonly known as a sugar rush. While this quality might be helpful in specific scenarios, such as before a workout or race, a 2019 study published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews shows that it can also lead to a crash in your energy levels, which is characterized by increased feelings of fatigue and reduced alertness — which is most likely what you should expect after eating a bag of these chips. Furthermore, Ruffles Queso Cheese Flavored Potato Chips also contain a long list of over 20 ultra-processed ingredients that contribute to these chips’ high-energy yet nutrient-poor profile.
9. Eat: Brad’s Veggie Chips
Whether you’re following a plant-based diet or simply looking for a wholesome snack, Brad’s Veggie Chips are the perfect choice when it comes to adding healthy chips to your pantry. These veggie chips are available in five different flavors, including kale, cheddar, broccoli cheddar, sweet potato, and red bell pepper, and they’re all certified gluten-free, vegan, USDA organic, Non-GMO verified, and free of soy, grains, flours, or starches, making them also paleo-friendly.
Aside from being low in fat and sodium, Brad’s Veggie Chips have a long list of natural and health-promoting ingredients. Plus, they can help you increase your overall vegetable intake, seeing that, according to a 2022 study published in Circulation, consuming more vegetables is associated with better health outcomes and prevention of premature death. Yet, per the study, current vegetable intakes by American adults fall well below the recommended amounts per U.S. Dietary Guidelines. With that in mind, these chips can make a great addition to your soup. Alternatively, you could toss them over a salad or enjoy them with your favorite cheese or spread.
10. Avoid: Takis Fuego
With its bright red color and tangy yet spicy flavor, Takis Fuego is full of artificial ingredients and lacking in nutritional qualities. A single serving of these rolled tortilla chips is high in carbs, sodium, and total and saturated fats, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have been linked to poor nutrition when consumed in excess and may increase the risk of developing chronic diseases like obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and stroke.
Aside from packing a punch of artificial food dyes and flavors, Takis Fuego is a deep-fried snack made with a blend of vegetable and palm oil. According to a 2019 review published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO), palm oil has a negative impact on both environmental and human health. The palm oil industry is known to cause deforestation, air pollution, and biodiversity loss, along with being linked to higher mortality rates from heart disease. Thus, next time you’re shopping for chips, try choosing a healthier one, if not for your health, then for the planet.
11. Eat: Artisan Tropic Sea Salt Cassava Strips
Made with cassava or yuca instead of potatoes, Artisan Tropic Sea Salt Cassava Strips will become your next favorite type of chip. These chips are incredibly thin yet full of flavor, and since cassava is a root vegetable (like potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, and carrots), they are a naturally gluten-free food. Furthermore, cassava has also been linked to a couple of health benefits, such as helping with blood sugar control and boosting gut health due to its resistant starch content (via Healthline).
Additionally, Artisan Tropic Sea Salt Cassava Strips are Non-GMO verified, vegan, certified paleo, and made with sustainable palm oil — which helps reduce the oil’s negative environmental impact. And for those looking for a spicy chip alternative, the chips are also available in a jalapeño flavor. These chips are a good snack to enjoy on the go, and are also equally as delicious paired with some guacamole or salsa.
12. Avoid: Fritos Flavor Twists Honey BBQ Flavored Corn Chips
Fritos Flavor Twists Honey BBQ Flavored Corn Chips are praised for their crunch and taste, yet what is hardly ever talked about is their low nutritional quality. Like many other ultra-processed chips, Fritos Flavor Twists Honey BBQ Flavored Corn Chips are lacking in wholesome ingredients and health-promoting nutrients. Instead, they are full of artificial ingredients and high in sodium and unhealthy fats. In addition, their long list of artificial ingredients contains one controversial food additive: monosodium glutamate or MSG.
MSG is a commonly used flavor enhancer within the food industry. However, according to a 2020 review published in the journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, it has been allegedly associated with numerous detrimental health effects despite being classified as a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) ingredient by food safety regulatory agencies. For example, some evidence suggests it may harm multiple bodily organs and systems. Yet, the controversy relies on the fact that said alleged harmful effects are only caused by an excessively high intake that’s not compatible with what you’d consume through a bag of chips. Still, if you prefer to be on the safe side, consider swapping these chips for other MSG-free alternatives.
13. Eat: Tostitos Simply Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
When it comes to tortilla chips, Tostitos never disappoint, and the brand’s Simply Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips might be one of the best tortilla chips out there. These chips are made with only three ingredients: organic blue corn, organic sunflower oil, and sea salt — which means that their purplish-blue hue comes from all-natural sources. In addition, they are low in unhealthy saturated fats while being an incredibly low-sodium snack (a trait that’s highly uncommon among chips, let alone those with added salt).
Tostitos Simply Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips are certified USDA organic, Non-GMO verified, and kosher. They also contain no artificial flavors or preservatives, which, according to research, may contribute to the obesity epidemic by altering hormone balance and adipocyte or fat cell function. Like many other Tostitos chips, these chips are the perfect base for healthy and homemade chilaquiles or nachos. However, they can also be enjoyed with guacamole, salsa, or queso dip.
14. Avoid: Veggie Straws Sea Salt
Don’t be fooled by their name, Veggie Straws Sea Salt are not the healthy chip they claim to be. For starters, their name and package illustration imply that these chips are a different way to increase your vegetable intake, specifically spinach and tomatoes. Yet, both their ingredient list and null fiber content confirm that these are potato-based chips in the shape of a straw with only a small hint of spinach and tomatoes in powder and paste form, respectively. Moreover, like many other unhealthy chips, these are both deep-fried and high in sodium.
As you can see, Veggie Straws Sea Salt are not only on the unhealthier side of chips, but they are also quite deceptive when it comes to their marketing claims, which, according to a 2016 review published in Nutrients, can influence a higher intake of foods with low nutritional value. On the bright side, they are gluten-free, contain no artificial flavors and preservatives, and have a lower fat content compared to a standard chip. Still, these might be a chip that you’d want to avoid at the end of the day.